Friday, February 5, 2010


Laura, Jeff, & Stella

We are inside the old stable building at Matanaka. Sunlight dances on warm wooden walls, and the air still carries the scent of animals.

Cracked and dusty saddles and bridles are slung over the wooden partitions between the stalls where once working horses were stabled. There is honest wear on loops of iron and brass, and timbers dip and sway where horses rubbed heads and backs.

Outside is warm, and there is a refreshing breeze off the sea.

Sheep fatten on good grass in the pasture. There has been enough rain this summer to keep a healthy flush of green on these hills.

Looking south west, the hills and bays are pale light and shadow in the afternoon sun.

In one building a small boat rests. It is made from small branches and twisted vines, thin planks of wood, and canvas.

Her lines are fine and, though she may never go to sea again, she dreams of the lift of waves under her foot.

Her canvas, torn by use and knocks, is repaired with thick thread and a rough needle, "Stitched like the leg of a game keepers dog" comments Jeff.

Could those who sailed these waters in this canvas boat, ever have thought of the ships that would follow them?

We went to see Matanaka yesterday afternoon with Jeff and Stella, who had brought a lovely mug from Doug Fitch to me earlier in the week. It is a special thing to show people round our local area, their joy of experiencing it increases our own pleasure of living here. It washes the dust of familiarity from old eyes and gives them a new sparkle!

Matanaka at the northern end of Waikouaiti bay
has what are probably the oldest wooden farm buildings in New Zealand. The buildings were brought here as a sort of kit set from Australia in the 1840s, and much of the roofing iron is still original. There was a whaling station here in the 1830s, and Johnny Jones, who came here from Sydney Australia, was instrumental in establishing a settlement. Whaling was on the decline at that time, and soon farming became important in this area.


Arkansas Patti said...

Thanks so much for taking us along. Loved that big barn and the scene with the mountains is awesome. You live in a beautiful country Peter.
That boat needs a new home. Loved the experession "Stitched like the leg of a game keepers dog". Very apt.

Linda Starr said...

Beautiful building and boat too, the world is indeed full of wonderment.

Anonymous said...

wish i could visit there too... beautiful old place. always like the looks of the inside of boats, like the inside of airplane wings... beautiful.

Armelle said...

What a surprise to see this boat, I saw a very close to that in Ireland, a curragh !!! by the way the sheep are different, more woolly, it seems. You live in a beautiful country, really and Matanaka sounds well.

Peter said...

Hi Patti,
Thought some summer sunshine would be appreciated in your part of the world! We had a talk about the boat when we were up at Matanaka. I think that many people that see it think that the boat should be in a museum, but there is a 'rightness' about her current position. She is in sight of the sea where she once sailed, and surrounded by the sound of the wind and the smell of the sheep.

I am reminded of a time when I was doing some artwork for Forest Service, and I was taken out into the "bush" by two of the older Forestry workers and shown the remains of an old steam winch. The area surrounding the winch was populated by shrubs and young trees. One of the forestry workers pointed this out to me and said that it was as a result of the original trees being taken to feed the boiler. Some time later the winch was taken out of the forest, and put on display near the public information centre. Removed from the environment that it had shaped and modified, it was never the same again....just an undignified pile of rusting machine parts.

Hi Linda, enjoyed the photos of gypsum sands on your blog, I think the world can be a fine place all over!

Hi Jim, I sense a kindred spirit in your appreciation of the beautiful structure of boats and aeroplanes. I used to make model aeroplanes (still have some hanging from the ceiling), and loved the balsa and tissue structure. Hope to see you over here one day!

Bonjour Armelle,
I had not thought of it before, but you are right about the boat being similar to the Irish Currach. I suppose the boat was built with what ever materials were available at the time, but it would be interesting to know if the people who made it knew of the Currach. has some information about this form of traditional boat. Also there is a Currach building slide show on

Laura thinks the sheep are Romney. We have other breeds of sheep also, including Perendale (a breed developed in NZ), Drysdale (a long haired NZ cousin of the Romney), and Merino.

Ron said...

Thanks Peter. Lovely to see.

Armelle said...

I believe that, Irish, Scottish, Wales and Cornwall, is the same population, the same know-how. I have learned with your link about Waikouaiti, so that the emigrants came to Waikouaiti from southern England, before arriving in New South Wales, probably from Cornwall where there is a version of the Curragh: the coracles. I would like to tell you how Armorica was repopulated by people from Wales and Cornwall (Welsh)and probably Devon. My family comes from this old migrants arrived around the year 400-700 AD (Dumnonia-Domnonée) and Armorica becomes Brittany.ée

One day I will show you the sheep of my village, there are blacks and whites, two births recently.
Good day to all

Peter said...

Glad you enjoyed it Ron. Hope you have some spring warmth and all its hopefulness up your way soon. P:)

Hello Armelle,
Thank you for the the link that you provided, and it is most interesting to find out about the history. I did not know about Armorica (Sadly, I did not do much history at school). The headland near the farm at Matanaka is called Cornish head, because two Cornish brothers once lived there. So we do have Cornish settlers here.

I wonder if the sheep in your village are like the ones that Doug Fitch from Devon took a video of, it is on his site:
Best Wishes, P.

Angie said...

Thank you Peter for all your kind words, I felt you knew exactly how I was feeling ...still cant shake the virus totally but I am feeling more chirpy. Have really enjoyed catching up with your blog ... wonderful photos. Your glazes seem to have 'grown' in the past month or so. They are brilliant ... as are the pots themselves.

Love Lauras last piece ...ethnic yet modern yet retro ...totally her own style. Is there a message there or do we see what we want to in it? ...was never good at art appreciation at school lol

Thankyou for all your good wishes ...Take Care xx

Peter said...

Very Good to hear from you Angie, glad that you are making an improvement in health, but I do know (from my own experience) that virus infections can linger and leave one very fragile in all sorts of ways. Do take care. Thanks for the nice comments about pots and glazes, and Laura's painting. Laura never says much about her paintings, and I'm not sure that they have a "message" of the kind that could be easily put into words, I think that if they did she would probably write or talk about them more. The paintings grow and evolve as she does, with all the ups and downs of life, her delight in paintings, good books, and gardening. Don't worry about the lack of "art appreciation" qualifications.... I think that a lot of good art actually comes from the heart rather from the head. In fact, often the head gets in the way..., well qualified art critics certainly manage to!

doug Fitch said...

Really interesting, great to see Jeff and Stella having such a good time, thank you for looking after them so well.

Peter said...

Hi Doug,
I think that Jeff and Stella really looked after us. A great treat having them in the area, and always good for us to see people enjoying our bit of the coast. When are you going to give us a visit!?! :}